It's a true desert landscape in Nambung National Park, where the weathered rock spires of the Pinnacles rise out of yellow sand dunes. Yet the park sits on the deep blue Indian Ocean, along an idyllic stretch of coast three hour's drive north of Perth. After experiencing the eerie Pinnacles, stay in the fishing village of Cervantes, with its white beaches, coral reefs and Lake Thetis, a salt lake teeming with living fossils. Get up close to a rich array of wildlife in Badgingarra National Parks and discover Jurien Bay's national parks and idyllic sandy beaches.
From Perth, you can hire a car and head north along the Indian Ocean Drive, which stretches all the way to Exmouth on Ningaloo Reef. It's around three hours drive to Nambung National Park, which is also frequented by coach and 4WD tours from Perth.
Once here, a scenic walk and drive trail winds past the ancient limestone pillars of the Pinnacles, some several metres tall. They're scattered across the desert in their thousands, creating an eerie, alien-like landscape. Some are as high as three and half metres, and some finish in a jagged point, while others have rounded domes, resembling tombstones. Made up of shells, the Pinnacles date back millions of years to an epoch when the sand was beneath the sea.
Watch wild emus, galahs and other wildlife stalking through the spires and see the landscape lit in spectacular sunset colours from the lookout point. Visit the interpretive discovery centre to learn how the Pinnacles evolved and about the region's biodiversity.
The park is also fringed by secluded, white beaches great for swimming, snorkelling and surfing. Go fishing from Thirsty Point Lookout or swim in the turquoise waters of Hangover Bay. Less than 8km from the park's entrance, scenic Kangaroo Point is named after the mobs of kangaroos who gather on the beach at dawn and dusk. The park, like much of this coastline, is ablaze with the colours of seasonalwildflowers from August to October.
You can explore the park from nearby Cervantes, a small crayfishing town fringed by more clean, calm beaches perfect for swimming and windsurfing. You can also join a deep-sea fishing excursion, snorkel the coral reefs or cruise past the offshore islands, spotting sea lions and bottle nosed dolphins.
South of town lies salty Lake Thetis, one of the few places in the world to shelter marine stromatolites. Walk around the lake to take a look at these living fossils, which were formed by organisms similar to the earliest forms of life on earth. Or head inland to Badgingarra National Park, where you can spot kangaroos, wedge-tailed eagles, bustards and emus on the 90-minute nature trail.
Further north along the Indian Ocean Drive is Jurien Bay, surrounded by the pristine beaches of Sandy Cape Recreational Park and Lesueur National Park, home to hundreds of plant and bird species. Jurien Bay is the place to feast on freshly-caught rock lobster, spot migrating whales between June and October and snorkel or dive the limestone reefs and caves.
Discover the wild, rugged Pinnacles along a coastline fringed by white beaches and colourful native bushland.